Ward Melville's John Ripa needed every last inch to take home the 1,600-meter crown on the second and final day of the Suffolk state qualifier, held Sunday at Port Jefferson High School.
In a finish that was more reminiscent of a sprint than a distance race, Ripa leaned across the finish line to narrowly edge Port Jefferson's James Burke and Ripa's teammate, Charlie Theiss.
The finish, which came in four minutes, 18.34 seconds, qualified Ripa for the New York State Track and Field Championships, scheduled for Friday and Saturday at SUNY - Albany. Burke finished second in 4:18.39 and Theiss was third in 4:18.57.
"With 10 meters left, I was coming up on Burke and Charlie," Ripa said. "I caught up to Burke and saw Charlie falling back a little, so I leaned, fell forward and I guess it worked. . . . I didn't even know that I had won. I didn't see the times, and then official grabbed me and I thought 'oh, I won.' "
The boys' 100 meters featured a similarly close finish, with Lindenhurst's Marquise Williams edging Amityville's Hassan Matthews by 0.01 of a second.
"I assumed I had it, but it was so close that I just wanted to be sure," Williams said. "I stood near the board just to see the time."
After a few minutes, or the 'longest wait of my life,' as he put it, Williams' winning time of 11.12 seconds flashed on the screen located in the middle of the infield.
"I wanted to go to states as bad as anyone else," he said. "That pushed me through."
On the girls' side, Shoreham -Wading River's Katherine Lee came from behind to win the 1,500 meters in 4:34.94. Down the home straightaway, Lee was in third place behind her teammate Kaitlyn Ohrtman and Sachem East Alexandra DeCicco. with 50 meters remaining, Lee went around the leaders on the outside and moved into the first position.
"I don't even know where that came from," Lee said with a laugh. ". . . It wasn't even a good strategic move. I just decided to go around and back in . . . I guess it's just racing instincts, get in front of them and stay in front of them."
DeCicco was second in 4:35.50 and Ohrtman was third in 4:35.53.
Lee also won the 3,000 meters on Friday in 9:54.16.
One day after qualifying for the state 800 meters, Huntington's Suzie Petryk won the 2,000 meter steeplechase in 6:55.82 and anchored the winning 4x800 meter relay team (9:15.42).
"I went out pretty hard because I wanted to stay out of traffic," Petryk said of her steeplechase triumph. "There was a lot of strong competition. We were all pretty close in the top pack . . . I knew I had to hold them off until the end."
Bay Shore's Aviana Goode won the 100 meter hurdles in 14.29 seconds. The time broke her own meet record of 14.42 seconds, set during the preliminary round on Friday. Goode's 14.54, ran last year, was the meet record entering the season, the website suffolkxctf.com said.
Sachem North's Leah Blackall won the triple jump (39- 0.50). She won the long jump (18- 2.50) on Friday.
East Islip's Faith Penny won the high jump, clearing five feet, six inches. Penny won the New York state indoor high jump championship in March and will look for the winter-spring sweep in Albany.
"It would be nice," Penny said of the potential double championship. "I don't want to jinx myself by saying I'm going to win or anything, but winning twice in a row is a big feat to accomplish."
Bayport-Blue Point's Kathleen Cibuls won the pentathlon with 3,480 points. The score broke the meet record of 3,429, set by Ward Melville's Emily Astarita in 2013, who won that year's state championship, according to suffolkxctf.com.